By Maxwell Witt
Burnout in the education system highlights the importance of technology integration to improve edtech processes.
The pandemic forced a significant shift from traditional classrooms to virtual and hybrid teaching environments–often before schools and districts were ready. It quickly became apparent that reliable virtual learning tools were a must-have for teachers to be productive.
However, classroom technology is only valuable if it builds a positive learning environment. Solutions must also be scalable for successful reiteration of the technology itself, based on research, data, and analysis. If a school has software that can analyze the effectiveness of academic content based on the average grades of the schools that adopt it, for instance, the statistical data will show the content schools should use to improve student performance.
With integrated technology and software, schools improve student performance and teacher productivity through more accessible applications and learning of edtech systems.
Implementing new technology in schools can be complicated
Schools usually purchase self-contained software that doesn’t integrate with other systems. Edtech has become a niche industry that doesn’t integrate with similar products, leading schools to find it easier to do piecemeal replacements of existing systems instead of wholesale overhauls. Furthermore, training staff members on new systems and data migration can present huge innovation roadblocks.
For example, when schools sent students home with individual laptops last year, educators discovered they lacked proper software to monitor those computers. Soon, students were distracted and surfing the web, cheating on tests, and playing video games instead of paying attention in class. They had to pivot quickly and add yet another software system to manage this new problem.
This new category of distraction elimination software was added on top of the different software programs that already operate independently of one another: learning management systems (LMS), student information systems (SIS), classroom engagement, data aggregators, and now–with COVID-19–video conferencing tools. These siloed systems make it nearly impossible for schools to create a productive learning environment.
The cost of fragmented systems is especially apparent in middle and high school environments, where students rotate from classroom to classroom. We’ve seen that the impact of poorly implemented technology solutions can be immensely disruptive and ineffective. If an application can’t support the school’s unique workflow, educators have to spend the first 10 minutes of class just making sure students are in a position to learn.
Incompatible software and fluctuating costs are key barriers to implementing technology in the classroom. School administrators and their IT staff have seen edtech vendors promise an all-in-one solution for years, but the available products have almost always fallen short. Schools need a unified and centralized system to streamline their information systems, technology, and workflows.
The importance of technology integration in education
The pandemic merely highlighted what has been building in the edtech world for years. Fragmented systems aren’t working together, and frustration is mounting as integration and innovation progress get stymied by bureaucratic oversight with little transparency.
However, we can start to build better processes that help the educational system and improve student performance.
1. Effectively integrate technology into the classroom
More than a year into the pandemic, we have extensive data on discontinuous technology and its effect on our education system. In a virtual or hybrid environment without integrated tools, it becomes difficult for teachers to run a classroom productively.
Not only do they have to manage a virtual teaching environment on Zoom, but they also oversee Google Classroom and the use of an LMS and SIS. We have the opportunity to learn from the pandemic-induced system and build a better one that is integrated and unified.
2. Use transparency to reduce barriers to implementing technology in the classroom
Without an integrated system that collects information into one dashboard, administrators and stakeholders can’t understand what is happening in classrooms. Teachers and students have struggled to be as effective in a hybrid learning environment, and the lack of robust technical analysis makes it difficult for administrators to understand their needs.
A lack of clarity does neither side any good. With long-term, sustainable solutions, technology can increase transparency and provide insight into reducing educator and student frustration.
3. Create a productive and supportive learning environment
The learning curve for educators adopting multiple software systems for a virtual or hybrid environment caused massive burnout. More than a quarter of educators say they would rather quit than teach in a non-supportive situation, and students are experiencing burnout with the litany of solutions.
Only a supportive environment where all members of the education system feel heard and respected will yield productivity and learning.
The events of the pandemic provided a glimpse into the future of education. Analyzing and learning from those insights can help create a productive learning environment that is transparent and supportive.